|Vince Wilfork on Patriots run D: ‘It’s a work in progress’||09.13.12 at 3:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Last Sunday, Vince Wilfork was the anchor of a defensive that shutdown one of the most explosive running backs in the game. Chris Johnson had just four yards on 11 carries.
This week, it’s Beanie Wells who will be in the sights of Wilfork and the Patriots defensive line. Wells, who is nursing a sore hamstring, only gained 14 yards on seven carries. Is Wilfork encouraged after Week 1?
“That’s a work in progress,” Wilfork said Thursday. “That’s something that we put a lot of time and effort in and it showed up well for us last week. Hopefully we can continue to do it. The main thing is consistent. We definitely have to come in and play the run well again, and that’s always a goal of ours. This week it’s going to be again – they have three good backs that can run the ball and they have a fullback [Anthony Sherman] they like to put in some certain situations. Its going to be a challenge for us again and we’ve just got to keep putting it together.
“We’ve got a bunch of great guys on this defense and a lot of guys have the love for the game and the passion for the game. Every year that’s a goal, but when you have a bunch of guys fighting for one goal, and the passion and the love for it and the understanding of the game – what needs to be done – you can do mainly anything you want to do, if you put your mind to it. That’s what we have. But that’s easy. The tough part is when you’re struggling in a game or a game’s close or when you don’t have a team that’s one dimensional, they’re doing everything still, how mentally tough are you? That’s one thing you always have to work toward to, the mental game. Because everything is not always going to be perfect out there.”
Of course, the number one weapon the Cardinals bring to the table is wideout Larry Fitzgerald. Will Wilfork and the Patriots defense be able to get enough pressure on Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals offensive line?
“They do a lot of things well,” Wilfork said. “They’re coached very well, they play hard. that’s one thing you can see on film that they put 60 minutes and sometimes overtime. They play very, very hard. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”
To Wilfork’s point, the Cardinals are 8-2 in their last 10 games, with four of those coming in overtime. Kolb figures to start for the Cardinals after John Skelton injured his right ankle in the season-opening win over the Seahawks. Kolb was the QB who led the Cards down the field on a fourth-quarter go-ahead TD drive.
“He’s a good quarterback, let’s get that understood right now. But that whole offense, they have weapons, from the backs to the tight ends to the receivers, up front they know what they’re doing. He has a good supporting cast around him, too. Not taking anything away from him, because he is a good quarterback. We just have to do a good job of our game [plan], how we want to attack it. He made a lot of plays. Last week is came in the game and brought these guys back, so they have a lot of faith in him, and it’s for a reason. We see a lot of things on film that he poses a threat to, so we’re going to have to do a real good job defensively trying to slow him down.
“Our hands are full, definitely,” Wilfork said. “At the beginning of the year to play a team like this, it poses a lot of challenges and threats for us.”
When Wilfork watches the Cardinals on tape this week he sees a lot of familiar schemes in the Arizona offense, not surprising since Ken Whisenhunt ran the Steelers offense when he was in Pittsburgh with Bill Cowher. And Russ Grimm, a hall of famer with the Redskins, is their offensive line coach.
“They have a good coaching staff, great,” Wilfork said. “You can see the way they play the game, the kids that they have now, they play it the same way, hard-nose football. Every down counts, every second counts. Definitely the background … it’s tough. it’s a tough football team. Don’t get me wrong, They’re very, very tough because they do so many things well.”
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